The story - it repeats every 2 months in a different form :)
A client approached me and took to his home which he wants renovated. The architect has designed a really aesthetically pleasing home. It involves breaking a lot of existing components of the house, introducing new members, replacing few walls with glass, extension of slab, conversion of a room into toilet etc etc. The existing house is more than 20 years old.
I look at the new design's elevation, and I am in awe of it. Then I go to the critical question - "Sir, do you have the drawings of the original building? I want to evaluate the structural design so that we can safely break walls and construct new ones. Also need to ensure that the foundation is safe for the upper floor."
"Sure Paven. Give me a minute" says the client, he returns with the municipality or corporation sanction drawings and he says "It is a bit different here and there but am sure it will serve the purpose". I look at it and ensure that I ensure that there are no facial expressions.
Fact 1 : Municipal drawings are for sanctions only and unlike many other parts of the modern world, here in India, these drawings are not sufficient for any purpose. Not even to accurately measure the dimensions of a room.
Fact 2: Structural drawings are a must for a technically qualified person to make an informed decision regarding any alterations to an existing building. Anyone can do anything, but a technically sound decision can be made only after studying the original structure.
Fact 3 : Most of the houses are built with nothing but a 2D plan. Everything else is left to the whims and fancies of the builder/contractor and preferences of the client.
Fact 4: Most of the houses do not have electrical and plumbing drawings. It makes it all the more harder for any sort of alteration. Even to introduce a new socket or a water supply point. Even to help drain the water from a heavy rain, the home owner will have to completely rely on the whims of the plumber he approaches.
The case and the conclusion
I tell this to all my clients and the people I care about. When constructing any sort of a building, even a small house or an out house or a shed even, please ensure that all drawings are under your possession. Keep these drawings safe. I am sorry if your contractor/engineer in charge/builder is not responsible enough to educate you on this. But please be aware that it is absolutely important so that you have the relevant information to share with an expert tomorrow if at all you want to make any sort of renovations or alterations to your building. As I say, no one can plan to perfection, only an attempt can be made. But if you have the drawings you can always make any sort of alterations after checking for the technical soundness of such changes.